NOAA 03-082
Contact: Gordon Helm
NOAA News Releases 2003
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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of General Counsel in Juneau, Alaska, has settled four separate cases against U.S. vessels fishing for crab in Russian waters.

The owners and operators of the fishing vessels Arctic Wind, Fierce Allegiance, Ocean Olympic and Alaskan Beauty each were charged with violations of the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and the Lacey Act for fishing in Russian waters in violation of Russian law.

“The terms of the settlement agreements require forfeiture of all of the illegally taken crab harvested by the four vessels, valued at approximately $222,415, and payment of penalties in the aggregate amount of $59,000 “, said Susan Auer of the NOAA, Office of the General Counsel, in Juneau.

The violations were first detected when vessel monitoring system data collected by the Alaska Region of NOAA Fisheries showed the Arctic Wind and Pacific Star to be fishing inside Russian waters. A Coast Guard C130 found the Fierce Allegiance, the Adventurer and the Ocean Olympic also fishing for crab in Russian waters, and directed all of the vessels to port. The owner of the Alaska Beauty self-reported its violations.

Specials Agents from NOAA Fisheries Office for Law Enforcement, Alaska Region, conducted the follow-up investigation.

“All of the vessel owners were very cooperative with NOAA Fisheries during the investigation,” said Auer. “The violations appear to have been the result of the vessel operators using an out-of-date NOAA chart that showed an 1867 Convention line between Russia and the United States. The Maritime Boundary Agreement of 1990 between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States replaced the 1867 Convention line with the present Maritime Boundary Line.”

According to Admiral James W. Underwood of the 17th Coast Guard District, “The Bering Sea is a rich ecosystem that must be managed and enforced properly, and the U.S. Coast Guard takes its responsibility very seriously. These were unique cases since we usually find foreign vessels violating the boundary line. However, it was a clear violation of U.S. law and it provided another opportunity for the Alaska federal law enforcement team to work together enforcing the law.”

NOAA Fisheries (the National Marine Fisheries Service), is an agency of the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The agency conducts scientific research, manages fisheries, and provides services and products to support fisheries development, trade and industry assistance, enforcement and protected species and habitat conservation programs.

The Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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